AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) reported a 22% dip in earnings for the third quarter of 2019 due to non-cash actuarial loss on benefit plans, merger-amortization costs, as well as a merger- and integration-related expenses. The bottom line exceeded analysts’ expectations while the top line missed consensus estimates.
Net income fell by 22% to $3.7 billion or $0.50 per share. Adjusted earnings rose by 4% to $0.94 per share.
Consolidated revenues declined by 2% to $44.6 billion due to declines in revenues from legacy wireline services, WarnerMedia, and domestic video. This was partially offset by growth in strategic and managed business services, domestic wireless services, and IP broadband.
With its 3-year financial outlook and the benefits of its capital allocation plan, AT&T expects adjusted EPS in the $3.60 to $3.70 range in 2020 and by 2022 expects adjusted EPS to be between $4.50 and $4.80. This includes HBO Max investment of about $0.15 to $0.20 per share in 2020, and then about $0.10 per share investment in 2021 and 2022.
The continued low postpaid phone upgrade rates hurt Mobility revenue for the third quarter. The postpaid phone-only average revenue per unit (ARPU) rose by 0.6%. The total net additions were 3.7 million to reach 162.3 million in service, while the company experienced 217,000 postpaid net losses with losses in tablets offsetting gains in wearables and phones. The postpaid churn rate rose to 1.19% from 1.16% a year ago due to tablet and phone churn.
The declines in premium TV subscribers and legacy services hurt the revenues from Entertainment Group despite the continued shift of subscribers to higher-speed services, including AT&T Fiber. The company experienced a loss in premium TV subscribers due to customers rolling off promotional discounts, programmer disputes, and competition as well as lower gross adds.
Business wireline revenue fell by 2.7% due to lower legacy products. Revenues in WarnerMedia declined by 4.4% due to lower Warner Bros. revenues partially offset by gains at Home Box Office and Turner. Warner Bros. experienced decreased theatrical products primarily due to a mix of releases as the prior-year quarter included The Meg, The Nun and Crazy Rich Asians.
The company announced its 3-year financial outlook and capital allocation plan, which it expects to drive significant growth in EBITDA margins and EPS, and allow it to invest in growth areas, retire shares and continue to pay down debt. The capital allocation plan for the next three years includes dividend growth & payout ratio, share retirement, retiring 100% of the acquisition debt from the Time Warner deal, and continued disciplined review of the portfolio.
AT&T said it will continue to actively review its portfolio, analyze the merits of each business and monetize non-core assets. In 2019, the company expects to close about $14 billion from monetizing non-core assets. In 2020, the company expects to monetize $5 billion to $10 billion of non-strategic assets.
Also, the company said it will continue to refresh its board as two directors retire over the next 18 months. The company expects to add a new director at its next board meeting, followed by another in 2020. AT&T expects Randall Stephenson to remain CEO through at least 2020.
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